Previewing the SEC football season

Alabama Living Magazine

Can Georgia win the trifecta?

College football fans are about to get what they have been dreaming about: a 12-team playoff. However, it doesn’t start until next fall, 2024. 

Is it part of the “everybody gets a trophy” mentality or the fact that the SEC Invitational, better known as the four-team CFP playoff, leaves out some northern and western teams that get their feelings hurt? Starting next year, be careful what you ask for. On average, there will be at least three or four SEC teams in the playoffs. Also, next year Texas and Oklahoma will get a rude awakening when they join the SEC. They will quickly understand what weekly “football cannibalism” means.

We are just now seeing the overall effect that NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) and the Transfer Portal has had on college football. It has become the “Wild, Wild, West.” Recruits want to know about financial opportunities more than the graduation rate of the business school. Current players basically have no restrictions on moving from team to team by transferring or as a graduate transfer. Coaches still have to play by the numbers of 85 overall scholarships. It is impossible to plan for next year. What do you do if all your running backs up and leave for better opportunities? It becomes “let us match that offer,” just like in business. Don’t ask a coach if he would rather invest $3 million in better facilities or put that money in the NIL pool. We all know the answer.

Some marriages seem to be made in heaven. Others are bound to fail from the beginning. When Nick Saban took over at Alabama in 2007, he was given the keys to the program without interference, much like Paul Bryant when “Mama called” in 1958. When Bryan Harsin was hired at Auburn before the 2021 season, the marriage appeared to be doomed from the start. His tenure lasted less than 2 years. Harsin never did mesh with the Auburn family and his recruiting efforts left much to be desired.

ALABAMA: the Tide finished the 2022 season with an 11-2 record which is subpar for Nick Saban. Losses on the last snap on the road against Tennessee and LSU are still stinging in Tuscaloosa. Is the “Dynasty” coming to a close? Is Saban, at 71 years of age, getting too old? Nick refuses to sit still after a 2-loss season. He has always leaned on his defensive coordinator for advice. He “gave” D.C. Pete Golding to Ole Miss and brought in his confidante, Kevin Steele, for the third time. Look for the defense to be more physical and aggressive.

Many Tide fans felt as though Heisman quarterback and overall first pick in the draft, Bryce Young, was handcuffed somewhat by offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. So, Saban “gave” him back to his NFL friend, Bill Belichick. Enter Tommy Rees, the young coordinator from Notre Dame. He has his work cut out for him since there is a quarterback battle for the first time in years.

AUBURN: It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago, the Tigers were playing Florida State for the national championship. They are coming off of back-to-back 7-loss seasons. Auburn fans are some of the most loyal in the land. The best example is the recent news that EVERY season ticket has been sold for the 2023 campaign. New coach Hugh Freeze understands the cut-throat grind in the SEC. Freeze also knows the importance of recruiting. Auburn signed the 18th ranked class and the #8 ranked transfer class. That’s a good start.

Coach Freeze recently took Auburn transfer Malik Willis at Liberty and developed him into a top quarterback who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans. His other claim to fame was that he beat Alabama in back-to-back seasons when he was head coach at Ole Miss. The problem at Auburn right now is that the cupboard is pretty bare.

SEC West Prediction: 1. Alabama 2. LSU 3. Ole Miss 4. Texas A&M 5. Arkansas 6. Auburn 7. Mississippi State. It comes down to a coin flip between the Tide and LSU. The edge goes to Bama since the November 4 showdown is in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers have the best returning quarterback. Alabama has Saban who rarely loses at home.

SEC East Prediction: 1. Georgia 2. South Carolina 3. Tennessee 4. Kentucky 5. Florida 6. Missouri 7. Vandy. Picking Georgia was easy. Choosing South Carolina as the runner-up was because Tennessee has to play at Bama in a crossover game. South Carolina has Spencer Rattler coming back at quarterback.

Can Georgia make it 3 in a row? 

In 1966, Alabama had one of its best teams ever. The Tide won the Natty in 1964 and 1965. Back then, the champion was determined by a (political) poll. Notre Dame played for a tie and was voted the champion, in spite of the Tide being undefeated. In 2023, it is settled on the field and the Dogs are clicking on all cylinders. Because of their schedule and Kirby Smart’s recruiting skills, it’s going to be hard to knock them off the pedestal. The National Champions: GEORGIA beats Michigan, 34-17. That’s a trifecta.

Brad Bradford is a former football staff member at Alabama and Louisville. His wife, Susan Moseley Bradford, is a former Auburn cheerleader. His blogs can be found at Brad is also an author and motivational speaker. Contact him at


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